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Playoff time is upon us.

Wait, what?

Did Bounce scare you? Don’t worry, while the girls’ basketball postseason begins this week with sectional play, we still have about a month left in the regular season on the boys side before we start the road to Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

That said, there is still plenty to dissect after another week of games on the hardwood, although a familiar squad sits atop Bounce’s Power Poll this week.

1. NORWELL (15-1, 5-0 NE8)

WHY #1?

The Knights aced a pair of stiff tests last week, beating Bishop Luers by seven on Tuesday and earning a nine-point win at East Noble on Saturday.

Overall, Norwell has won seven straight and has a pivotal contest against Columbia City set for Thursday. At this point, it is difficult to see anyone being able to knock off this team in the NE8, although out-of-conference tests loom before the end of the regular season at Woodlan and Homestead.

WHY NOT HIGHER?

Simply not possible.

RECORD VS. OTH TOP 10: 4-0

2. SNIDER (14-3, 5-1 SAC)

WHY #2?

It was an impressive week for the Panthers, winners of three games – two by a single point.

While Dillon Duff and Michael Eley have continued to produce, last week saw some big moments out of some Snider reserves, with Jade Moore hitting the winning three to beat Churubusco and Karson Jenkins dropping 16 points in the Carroll victory.

This team is finding ways to win in the clutch, having secured three one-point wins over the past two-plus weeks.

WHY NOT HIGHER?

Losses to Wayne and Carroll keep the Panthers here for now, but that could change next week as Snider takes on Blackhawk Christian and Bishop Luers, both on the road.

RECORD VS. OTH TOP 10: 6-1

3. BLACKHAWK CHRISTIAN (15-2)

WHY #3?

A shaky four-point victory at Bishop Dwenger was followed by a win on the road at Woodlan, giving the Braves five straight victories since losing to Homestead.

This team has three guys averaging over 16 points per game – Zane Burke (16.8), Marcus Davidson (17.4) and Caleb Furst (22.9). When all three are on in the same game, there are not many 2A squads that will be able to compete with Blackhawk Christian.

WHY NOT HIGHER?

Losing by 14 points at home to Homestead is a place to start, although that Spartans team was much different than it is now (more on that later).

RECORD VS. OTH TOP 10: 2-1

4.  BISHOP LUERS (10-5, 5-1 SAC)

WHY #4?

Before you get all up in arms about the Knights being in the top 4 with five losses, consider that the local four losses were to Norwell, Blackhawk Christian and a fully-healthy Homestead team (twice).

Bishop Luers has a tendency to play at the level of its opponent, evidenced by narrowly beating the likes of Bishop Dwenger and South Side recently. But that is a natural next step in a team that won just four games a year ago.

The Knights still control their destiny in the SAC with three league games to go. Who predicted that?

WHY NOT HIGHER?

The aforementioned five losses are a good place to start. This team is playing some good basketball, but needs to come out with the same effort and intensity against interior teams as it does against the big boys.

RECORD VS. OTH TOP 10: 1-4

5. CARROLL (12-3, 4-2 SAC)

WHY #5?

The Chargers have now lost two of three, but they had Snider on the ropes last Friday before falling short by a point.

By and large, Carroll has been incredibly consistent, as is expected with a Marty Beasley-coached team. Losses to Norwell, Bishop Luers and Snider do not overshadow the fact that this team without a true star (maybe Jalen Jackson?) is one of the best squads around.

WHY NOT HIGHER?

As mentioned, Carroll has lost two of three, including an 11-point defeat to Bishop Luers. The schedule lightens up the next few weeks before ending with the stretch of Carmel, Homestead, North Central and Warsaw.

RECORD VS. OTH TOP 10: 2-3

6. HOMESTEAD (11-6, 4-2 SAC)

WHY #6?

If there is a team that Bounce has some concerns about, it is definitely the Spartans.

While a home loss to Lawrence North (16-1) is nothing to be put off by, the home defeat against Northrop is a little bit more concerning. But when you consider that Zak Kreuger is out with an injury and Jake Archbold sat out due to illness, the Spartans were without their starting point guard and best on-ball defender.

Can the Spartans get healthy soon? A visit from Hamilton Southeastern on Saturday is next up.

WHY NOT HIGHER?

Homestead has now lost five times since Dec. 28. Bounce cannot ignore that, nor can he ignore the fact that this team is not at full strength.

RECORD VS. OTH TOP 10: 5-2

7. NEW HAVEN (11-5, 4-1 NE8)

WHY #7?

A pair of victories last week has the Bulldogs standing pat this week. An impressive road victory against Columbia City last Friday, a team that was previously undefeated in the Northeast 8, was the best road win for this squad all year.

A Saturday afternoon game at Huntington North is up next for the ‘Dogs.

WHY NOT HIGHER?

Four of New Haven’s five losses are to teams higher than it in this poll. The fifth loss is to Warren Central (10-5)

RECORD VS. OTH TOP 10: 0-4

8. WESTVIEW (13-3, 7-1 NECC)

WHY #8?

The Warriors have won 12 of their last 13 games, the lone defeat coming at the hands of Prairie Heights in the NECC Tournament.

While the schedule hasn’t been overly difficult of late, Coach Rob Yoder’s team is taking care of business.

WHY NOT HIGHER?

Is Westview the class of the NECC? It will have a chance to prove it in a rematch on Feb. 14 against Prairie Heights. For now, Bounce thinks they are.

RECORD VS. OTH TOP 10: x-x

9. EAST NOBLE (8-7, 3-2 NE8)

WHY #9?

Victories over Central Noble and Leo in recent weeks has put the Knights squarely on Bounce’s radar. While they could not find a way to beat Norwell at home on Saturday, East Noble did compete for the majority of the game.

The schedule has some interesting matchups coming up, which will decide whether East Noble remains ranked.

WHY NOT HIGHER?

Uh, seven losses?

RECORD VS. OTH TOP 10: 1-1

10. CHURUBUSCO (8-6, 5-1 NECC)

WHY #10?

The Eagles return to the top 10 after a long absence. It has been a tale of two seasons for ‘Busco, an early season without Landen Jordan and now with the stud junior who is averaging 16 points and 13 rebounds.

Coach Chris Paul’s team had Snider beat on the road last Tuesday, allowing a 10-point lead in the final minute to inexplicably slip away. But the Eagles shook off that one and bounced back with a home win over Central Noble.

Bounce still considers Churubusco the team with the highest upside in the NECC come playoff time.

WHY NOT HIGHER?

Patience…

RECORD VS. OTH TOP 10: 0-1

Other teams in the conversation (in no particular order): Prairie Heights (13-3), Central Noble (14-4), Angola (10-5), Northrop (9-10), Leo (10-6), Bluffton (11-5), Woodlan (10-6).

These opinions represent those of Bounce and Outside the Huddle. No opinions expressed on Outside the Huddle represent those of any of our advertisers. Follow Bounce on Twitter at Bounce_OTH

 

 

 

 

 

 

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